Growing up, I was never a big fan of smores. I don't know why. They never tasted right to me. Maybe it was because I associated them with camping or summer camp, both of which I was definitely not a fan. Whatever the case, it wasn't until this week that I decided to give them another chance and am I glad I did. Ladies and gentlemen, these are not your 1970's smores. These are 100% homemade and scrumptious.
Oddly enough, during the time I was making and photographing the recipe, I became acutely aware of the interaction between some children and their parents while out in public. I think this was primarily due to researching the history of the smore which revolves around girl scouts and camping. (recipe published in "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts," 1927).
Let me preface this by saying that I know parenting is difficult. I understand that kids need lots of encouragement, love and support. I get it. Completely. But lately I've been noticing parents who heap enormous amounts of praise upon their children for incredibly simple behaviors. Not "good job" or "great" but an outpouring of praise usually relegated to a big accomplishment such as finishing a recital or graduation.
Here's are some comments I've recently heard to kids performing expected daily behaviors. Keep in mind, these kids are healthy and have no performance difficulties. Parent to 9 year old girl: "You put on your swim suit all by yourself. I'm so proud of you! You are so wonderful! " This was punctuated by shrieks of joy. Parent to 10 year old boy: "Good for you. You made it up the stairs! I'm so proud of you." Parent to 12 year old: "you did such a good job picking out the cereal. You deserve a special treat." Again, these are not exceptional cases. This was simply expected daily behavior and the pattern extended beyond the instances I just mentioned.
What am I missing?
I'm curious to hear your take on this. Is this form of praise appropriate or insulting to a child? Personally, I would have been mortified if either of my parents praised me for getting dressed or climbing the stairs at age 10. But maybe that's just me.
So here's my question: does praising for expected behavior diminish the value of praise for a real accomplishment that requires discipline and hard work? I'd like to hear your input.
Just as an aside, I was recently informed by a blog friend (and parent) that her company is instituting training on how to provide criticism and feedback to the new slate of college graduates they've hired. Apparently, they're seen as fragile and in need of a bit too much praise.
Yes, I am equally frightened by the fact that a simple smore triggered this line of thought. No worries though. I can assure you that this smore is made to exacting standards and is most definitely a praise-worthy dessert.
Homemade Graham Crackers (adapted from Baking Bites)
75 g all-purpose flour
232 g stone ground whole wheat flour
100 g sugar
6 g baking powder
3 g baking soda
3 g salt
1 g cinnamon
115 g cold butter, cut into cubes
36 g honey
30 g molasses
50 g cold water
4 g vanilla extract
In a food processor, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds or so. Add the honey, molasses, water, and vanilla. Mix until the dough startes to come together in a ball, another 30 seconds. Scrape dough out of the mixer.
Between 2 silpat sheets, roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thick. Chill for at least 1 hour, until firm (I chilled for several hours).
Preheat oven to 350F. Working quickly, use a cookie cutter to cut dough. Arrange the crackers on silpat lined baking sheets. With a skewer, prick several holes in each cookie. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan.
Note: I baked 1 sheet at a time and put the dough back into the refrigerator until it was ready for the oven. I also sprinkled the sugar on at 8 minutes and returned them to the oven for another 1-2 minutes. Otherwise the sugar melted into the cookie.
Chocolate Marshmallows (adapted from Baked)
12 sheets gelatin
400 g sugar
300 g light corn syrup
8 g vanilla extract
100 g water
1 g salt
30 g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
Powdered sugar for dusting.
Grease a 9X13X2 inch pan with vegetable shortening
Soak gelatin sheets in cold water until soft.
In medium saucepan, stir sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water.
Put remaining 1/2 cup corn syrup in bowl with whisk attachment.
When mixture on stove hits 200 degrees, melt gelatin in microwave 5-10 seconds. Pour gelatin into mixer bowl and mix with corn syrup on low speed.
Cook mixture to 240 degrees (soft ball) and slowly pour into corn syrup/ gelatin mixture. Once added, mix on medium high for about 5 minutes. When mixture gets white and fluffy add vanilla, sifted cocoa powder and salt and beat on high. Pour into pan. Sprinkle on powdered sugar and let set for 6 hours. Cut into cubes.
Assembly (per smore)
2 graham crackers
1 piece dark chocolate, thinly sliced
1 chocolate marshmallow
Place one graham cracker on plate with underside facing up. Place a thin slab of chocolate on top of the cookie. (I put mine in the microwave for about 20 seconds until it began to soften and then used a thin spatula to lift it onto the cookie. Otherwise, it may not melt thoroughly).
Place marshmallow on a fork or skewer and heat over flame, stove or preferably campfire until the marshmallow gets brown and starts to melt. Immediately place on top of the chocolate. Top with second cookie and squish down a bit. Eat immediately.
Congratulations to the winners of the blog and Twitter giveaways: Chez Us, Emma's Family Farm, Anali's First Amendment, Happy Yolks, and Food & Style. Special thanks to the River House Cafe for their generous gift certificate donation.
Thank you all for your kind words and wonderful feedback about the portfolio I designed. It's appreciated more than you know.